Strive to be an advocate for Mental Health Awareness. Really.

We see it all around us more and more...hashtags for things like #MentalHealthAwareness. And this is great, it is. It is fan-freaking-tastic that people are speaking up more. I hashtag it too. But do we really stop to think what it means, and what we can do?

It's time to start.

REALLY start.

Giving lip service isn't enough. Just caring about the issue isn't enough. I believe we all need to be willing to step up and find our voice and figure out what real action we can take to help bring about change. Because the reality is--our kids are dying. So are adults. But right now, in this post, I want to address how so many adolescents and teens are directly affected by mental health issues like depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and more.

It drives me up a wall when I hear people make comments about teens who self-harm, or suffer from depression or anxiety in a nonchalant manner of, "They're just doing it for attention."

Because let's examine that statement. FOR ATTENTION. They are cutting themselves with razors, or pen caps, or knives or paper clips until blood runs from their skin ....for attention.  And let's assume, just for a minute, that even if this statement is true for some of these teens....what does that tell us? What are they crying out to show us where words fail them? That they are in pain. Or...maybe even worse...that they feel absolutely nothing and feel the need to self-harm to feel anything at all. They are numb.

And even if they need attention, what is wrong with that? They need to know that they matter. That they are worth something. That someone cares enough to say, "Are you okay?"

And when they don't hear that, see that, feel that....what's the result? They become more firmly convinced that what they suspected or felt to be true....IS the truth. They come to believe their inner pain or hurt or emptiness doesn't matter. And that is a tragedy.

We have to get over the stigma. We have to make it MORE than okay to talk about these issues. We have to be the ones who do it. Because if we don't...who will? The reality of how many kids are hurting inside breaks my heart. And it also wakes me up.

So to anyone who might stumble across this blog post, and feel like no one "gets it"...that no one could understand how you feel, or even care...know that you are NOT ALONE.


You DO matter.

And for anyone who sees someone going through a hard time, I get that sometimes we don't know exactly what to say. And that's okay too. Listen. Or, if they don't want to talk right now, just be there. That counts for more than you think.

And talk about it. On social media, to your friends, your family, your neighbor, your mailman...I don't care who...but be an advocate.

"Be the change you wish to see in this world." ~ Gandhi

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